Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses and I do it for an audience of real honest to goodness entrepreneurs who are building their companies right now because they aspire to do something big, to leave a legacy, to have a great life, to have impact on the world. And here’s the thing, when you’re building your businesses it’s easier to grow faster and be more useful if you connect with these bigger companies that already exist.
Today’s guest did that and he grew. He’s Jon Ferrara. He is the founder of, among other things Nimble. Nimble is a CRM, contact relationship management software, and it connected to LinkedIn. He connected to Facebook. He enriched the data, so if you had a contact in his software, you had all this extra data that came in from those partnerships. Life was good. He built up something useful and then what happened to him is what often frankly happens to a lot of companies that partner with bigger businesses, they had to shut him off. Then his business had to figure out a way to recover and the way he did it is by banking on relationships.
And I want to have him here to tell the story because this is something that the guy’s done so many times in his career and built now at least two. I wonder about the first one, how successful it was, the two mega blockbuster companies and one that I don’t know much about but we’ll find out about.
Jon is also . . . I’ve been kind of hinting at this. He’s also the founder of a software called GoldMine. I never understood GoldMine because, Jon, when I was in school. Oh, you know what? Before I started addressing you, Jon, I should say my two sponsors, HostGator for hosting websites, Toptal for hiring developers.
Jon, when I was in school, they taught us spreadsheets, which was smart. Get us using it. They taught us word processors. Again, smart, get people to understand how to use a word processor. It’s just part of life. They even told us how to use database software. They never taught us how to use a CRM. It wasn’t until I went to work for Dale Carnegie & Associates, the people like behind the book ”How to Win Friends and Influence People” that I saw they weren’t just being nice to people. At the end of a meeting, the salesman that I worked for, Robert Reese would go sit at his desk and he would type in notes in his CRM. I’d go, “Wait a minute. I never knew about this.”
And then when he’d go back a month or two later to talk to the guy who worked at AT&T who was going to hire him to train his people. Robert would go and look at his computer under the record and you say, ”Oh, he likes ‘Black Enterprise Magazine.’ Maybe I should spend some time looking at ‘Black Enterprise Magazine’ before I walk into the meeting. Oh, he has two daughters. Let’s remember to ask about how their daughters are doing the soccer practice.” And then he’d go in and Robert was a great salesman because he would bring that stuff to bear and I didn’t know any of that.
And then I went and I researched it and that’s how I discovered GoldMine. That’s how I discovered the value of CRMs. I’m really excited that you’re here to talk about this, Jon. Good to have you here.
Jon: Well, Andrew, first off, thank you for inviting me. I believe that we’re on this planet to grow other people and the best . . . actually what it is, is I believe we’re on this planet to grow our souls by helping other people grow theirs and the best way to grow is how other people grow. And so any opportunity that I can grab my microphone and teach and preach to help other people grow, is an f’ing great day for me. So thank you.
Andrew: You’re much nicer than I am. The truth is for me is I believe I’m here on this earth to grow myself. And I tried to do it without growing other people and doing anything for other people and nothing was working. Then I picked up ”How to Win Friends and Influence People.” That book changed my life. And then I went to work for Dale Carnegie and I said, ”Teach me how to not be so self-centered like all the rest of New Yorkers.” That helped me.
Jon: Yeah, and you were just talking about is really the core of business — people buy from people they like, know and trust. The best way to build intimacy and trust is to discover the commonalities that you share with that person. I call it the five f’s of life, family, friend, food, fun and fellowship. Those are the commonalities, the softer things in life that you could share with somebody in order to earn their intimacy and trust.
In the old days, we used to do that by going into somebody’s office. Look at the books they read, the degree of the school they went to, the knickknacks that you collect and you talk about the different books that maybe inspire you, right? And ultimately you find these commonalities and you earn a bond with that person, then they open up to you about their business issues. And then what you need to do is follow up and follow through. And that’s where the big problem happens and that’s where I was struggling as a sales person back in 1988 and I looked for a tool that would help me to manage my relationships, my communications, my activities and my . . .
Andrew: Where were you in 1998? 1998 Let me take a look. Actually I’ve got my notes here.
Jon: I’m sorry, it was 1988.
Andrew: 1988. Excuse me. You were working at a . . . what was the software company, Banyan.
Jon: Banyan VINES.
Andrew: You cofounded Banyan VINES?
Jon: No. So Banyan VINES was a network operating system like Novell, but it was for the enterprise. And so I was a sales rep selling and they gave me leads which really weren’t leads there are basically pieces of paper with phone numbers for IT people and they said go get them. So I’d cold call them and I basically make notes on that piece of paper. I put my appointments in my day timer and I did my forecast in a spreadsheet and I said this is really stupid. And I looked around for a tool that integrates contacts, email, calendar and sales and marketing automation, I couldn’t find it. So at 29 years old I was too young and dumb to know any better. I quit my job and started GoldMine.
Andrew: So when you were doing this by hand, what would you put next to someone’s record that enabled you to sell?
Jon: Well, ultimately you need to build a connection, a relationship because you can’t pipeline a deal until you’ve built a connection and then you figure it out if there’s a fit for your product and they have a budget and ability to buy and blah, blah, blah. And then once that happens, then they’ve been qualified and then you can engage with them in order to put them in the pipeline. So there’s a whole relationship thing that really happens before the CRM, and that’s where a CRMs really fail because CRMs aren’t about relationships, they’re about reporting and most of the relationships don’t happen in the CRM. They happen in email and now more and more in social. And that’s a big struggle with CRM systems.
So what I would do is I basically just have a mark on the piece of paper that I was cold calling and I basically circled them and say, yeah, this one is qualified. And then they’d gone my appointment, I go meet with them, I make notes, and then eventually they ended up in my spreadsheet and you know, I knew that wasn’t scalable and I looked around for a tool that helped me to do this. I found Word Perfect, which is a Word Perfect Office, email and calendar. I found TeleMagic, which was a telemarketing recall date note taking thing. And I said, really what I wanted to do is to blend a few of these things together. And basically I did and we called the GoldMine. So GoldMine was Outlook and Salesforce combined before either existed.
Andrew: You told our producer that at the time you knew that this stuff didn’t exist because you were . . . before that, I guess you were selling software. Was this in college?
Jon: Yeah. So I bought my first computer in 1978. I had hair down to here.
Andrew: He’s showing to like, down to his chest. Why? Because you went into rock?
Jon: You know, I grew up in the ’70s, man. Here, let me lay some of this on you.
Andrew: You know what I like that you’ve got props for people who are listening. We suddenly heard a couple of clicks and then he was turning away when he was saying I used to pick up the phone. He actually picked up the phone to do it. When he said we looked on people’s shelves, if you heard his mic go a little soft there is because he went to look on his shelves. Uh-huh?
Jon: And so here’s me in 1978.
Andrew: All right. I see it.
Jon: And so that summer I basically cut all my hair off. I bought a computer, was Apple 2E, would cost me $3,700 in 1978 dollars. That’s like $10,000 or more today. And I poured myself into learning computers and I went to the local community college to basically do what I needed to do to transfer in the university. And in order to go to college, I worked in a computer store in order to make enough money to go to school. And in that computer store, I learned every software program on the market. There were only 300 programs at the time in 1981, ’82. And at the computer store, not only did I learn about software, I learned about computer stores sell computers to corporations.
And so every stage of my life I learned a little bit something different. At the computer store, I learned how companies sell computers. At Hughes Aircraft, I learned how companies buy computers and implement them. And I learned how technology companies sell technology to companies. And all those things combined gave me the business background to start GoldMine. Because I was a math computer science major, I didn’t have a business degree. My business degree was earned through the trenches.
Andrew: Okay. So here’s what I saw. In my research, I heard that Banyan got their butts kicked by Novell. And part of the reason why they got their butts kicked was the sales people were, well, here’s what I see. There was this little company called Novell that had a work group solution that was affordable, easy to get started with and sold through resellers. It was like a Trojan horse into the corporation. People bought it in work groups. And you said, all right, I see that. I’m learning from that. I’m going to do something similar. You actually picked up the phone. You called Novell . . .
Jon: No, no. It’s a little different than that. So Banyan, we sold direct. We were suits. We sold at the top level of the it corporate, of the big Texacos and whatever. In order to get a deal done, it took a year and you had to go through all this different stuff. And plus I wasn’t a good old boy. I was living in Texas, but I wasn’t a Texan. And if you want to sell to Texan companies, it’s good to being a local guy. And so what I saw happening was the Novell reseller in fact Mark Cuban was Novell reseller at MicroAge, you on the local MicroAge. And he can go in there and he’d sell to department. So a work group, 20 people within Texaco and then he’d sell to another 20 people and eventually Novell became the corporate standard at Texaco and I never was able to sell to them.
And so that’s the Trojan horse into the enterprise because people like to buy from people they like know and trust. And the local guy was . . . he had an in-road to it and they didn’t have to buy companywide. They just bought a little work group and the manager could pay for that out of his budget.
What happened is I emulated that when I started GoldMine. Rather than me trying to sell direct to companies, I went and found the trusted advisor of my prospect, the person that sold them the network, the Novell reseller and I cold called the reseller themselves. So I didn’t call it Novell, 500 of the top Novell resellers in the country. And I got them to use GoldMine because people sell what they know and they know what they use . . .
Andrew: Oh, the top resellers of Novell. And you said sell my software too because your clients could use CRM?
Jon: No, I didn’t start that way. I basically called them up and talk and basically told them how I can help them grow their practice. I said, ”I’ve got this software that can help you grow your business. I’m going to give it to you. I’m going to teach you how to use it.” So I’m giving them growth, right? I’m not asking them to sell my stuff. They sell it because once they use it, they love it. They trust it and they then sell it on top of the network.
Andrew: You let them make that leap on their own . . .
Andrew: . . . or did you . . . You did. You gave it to them for free. They started using your software. It helped increase their sales and then they naturally came to you and said, can we sell this to our people?
Andrew: And it was you cold calling them all and saying, can I give you free software that’s going to help you close more sales?
Jon: Yeah. So the way it started is I would pick up the phone and I’d call these resellers. And after I got, say like a group of 20 in a particular area like the West Coast, then I’d hire somebody and I’d say, okay, ”Here you’re going to manage these people.” And then I kept doing that until I had somebody that was West Coast, central, East Coast and eventually it was northwest, southwest, north central, south central. And eventually I had 50 people on the phone managing 10,000 resellers.
Andrew: Got it. All right. And then you eventually got it to how much revenue?
Jon: So the Novell resellers got us to about $100,000 a month in revenue. And about that time Microsoft came out with something called NT Server and they started to eat Novell. So Microsoft doesn’t innovate, they iterate. They wait for somebody else to build the market and they come in when it’s big enough and they use their muscle.
Hundreds of thousands of resellers, billions of users. And they came out with NT Server, right about the same time where our customers were saying to me, ”Jon, we love GoldMine, but the backend database dBase isn’t as scalable and secure as we want. The email transport, POP and IMAP aren’t as scalable and secure as we want. And the network operating system, we’d like it to be more secure and more scalable and enterprise than Novell.”
So because Microsoft came out with NT Server, SQL Server, an Exchange Server that fulfilled the need of my customer and the partners wanted to add value on top of that. So we built GoldMine enterprise that required a seat of NT Server, SQL Server, an Exchange Server for every GoldMine seat and thereby solve the issue of our customers to a more scalable, secure solution. Solved the issue of my resellers who wanted to make more money on selling GoldMine. They started to make $10 on every GoldMine dollar on the other products and services. But most importantly we became Microsoft’s number ISB and Ballmer would come and do the marquee events at our conference every year. And that’s how we scaled $100 million.
Andrew: You’re losing me with terms like ISB. So let me see if I understand this. You’re saying you partnered up with Microsoft and Microsoft sold your software at $10 per user?
Jon: No, no, no. Microsoft basically because we integrated with Microsoft’s first-party solutions, with a third-party product and we were ISB, independent software vendor, that basically integrated with Microsoft products. The Microsoft reseller started to resell GoldMine plus NT Server, SQL Server, Exchange Server. And the resellers would make $10 on every GoldMine dollar. So if you sell GoldMine for $300 a seat, then you basically sell NT Server for 50 bucks a seat and a SQL Server for 100 bucks a seat and Exchange Server for 80 bucks a seat . . .
Andrew: So you’re saying that every time they sold your software, they also have to sell Microsoft software in addition?
Jon: Yes, yes.
Andrew: Got it, got it. And so they liked it because look, if they’re promoting your software, they’re making money from your software, but also all these other Microsoft software.
Jon: Well, think about it. Nobody would buy SQL Server if they didn’t have a database application that required it. Right? You just don’t buy SQL Server. It’s like buying Microsoft Access. You just don’t, right? You need software that makes the database dance and the same thing with Exchange Server. So we actually helped scale those products for Microsoft and that’s why we became their number one ISB, and that’s how we scaled $100 million in revenue.
Andrew: Then that’s a lot for you to sell. If I’m understanding it right, for someone to sell GoldMine, they also have to sell all this extra Microsoft stuff.
Jon: That’s right. But the thing is, is this. Think about it. Salesforce costs $135 a seat per user per month, right? And so you’re effectively paying for all that infrastructure right there. And you’re paying every single month. With GoldMine you bought it and you owned it. So it was actually more affordable and there wasn’t any other game in town. We were it, baby. So, you know, we were Salesforce at the time. And you had no choice. If you wanted to scale your business, you needed to buy GoldMine.
Andrew: Let’s see, Salesforce was founded in 1999 and the . . .
Jon: The year I sold GoldMine.
Andrew: The year you sold it. Got it. And so you’re saying, look, it seems like it’s a lot to sell. It’s a few different pieces of software in order to get your CRM to work, but it’s still cheaper than Salesforce and it actually made enough financial sense. Got it. And so you’re saying that Steve Ballmer would come do the dance for you guys because he wanted your people jazzed up about selling your software because it also helped him grow.
Jon: Exactly. And it’s where he got the idea to buy Great Plains Dynamics accounting software and to build Dynamics CRM. And the year I sold GoldMine in 1999, they launched those products. They hired my VP of sales, my whole field sales organization, and they basically launch the Dynamics practice there.
Andrew: Why did you sell your software? I mean, why did you sell your company?
Jon: You know, I’d run it for 10 years. And any entrepreneur who’s listening to me today understands the commitment that’s required to scale any business. And I had already had one baby born and I really didn’t have any time for anything other than work and a little bit of time in the morning and at night and on the weekends for my family, certainly not much time for friends.
And you get to a point in life where you say, how much money do you need? And I got to that point in my life that said, I don’t really need much more money than this, but you don’t really have time to basically be present with your family and your friends. You can’t repeat that. Time is the most precious thing you have. They don’t write on your grave. “Built GoldMine made billions,” right? They say beloved friend, father, husband, brother, sister. And so I sold GoldMine when I was 40 and I retired and enabled me to raise three babies and be a present dad and husband.
Andrew: You’re saying to me, you really got out for family reasons. All the, like the fake thing that people say when they get out of politics, when there’s something else going on for you it was true. You really were willing to give it up just to spend time with your family.
Jon: Well, you know, I’m not going to say that I didn’t spend time growing myself, right. So when I sold GoldMine I went and got a degree in photography and I shot USC football for 10 years on the sidelines. And I did a number of different . . . involved in the boy scouts and helping my son to become eagle scouts. And so, you know, did I sell it because I wanted to become a family man and dad? Yeah. But also just to live life because . . .
Andrew: Did you feel like you weren’t living life enough? Were there things . . . did you feel like as you were going to work, “I’m missing out on doing all this other stuff”?
Jon: I didn’t think about that. I thought about building the company, you know.
Andrew: Was it also that this was a good time to sell because you saw the competition was starting to heat up?
Jon: No, I didn’t really like the stock market. So the stock market was like outrageously priced and people were buying other software companies for stock that was totally inflated. And somebody offered me a substantial amount of money in cash. And so know I’d run it for 10 years and I had spent in my life and I said, yeah, the thing is this, Andrew, most people . . .
Andrew: Sorry, the stock market reference was you were thinking of either going public or selling, right?
Andrew: Got it. And you said, look, I don’t like the stock market. I’d rather sell. How much did you sell it for?
Jon: So we sold it for $125 million in cash.
Andrew: You said we. So I noticed that in my notes.
Jon: I am a cofounder.
Andrew: You did. Got it. All right and it was like 50/50 ownership.
Jon: No, he had a larger percentage.
Andrew: Okay. Who is the cofounder? I only knew about you.
Jon: Yeah. So when I took my first calculus class, there was a guy named Elan. He was fresh off the boat from Israel and he and I were the smartest guys in our math classes. And we basically took calc one, two, three, differential equations, linear Algebra and numerical analysis together. And after that we became fast friends. I studied computer science. He studied electrical engineering. And I helped him buy his first computer. I helped him learn how to code. And even though I had the computer science degree, I actually was more of the product guy, that vision and then also the storyteller. And he wrote the code and it was a great team.
Andrew: Elan Susser?
Jon: Susser S-U-S-S-E-R.
Andrew: I’m doing research on them. Yeah. You know what, you show up way more in Google search results, but every once in a while he shows up and it’s usually in an interview with you or reference to you, so you are more the face of the organization.
Jon: I basically went to the company every day. I ran the company on daily basis. Elan wrote code till four in the morning every morning. The beauty about Elan is if I came up with an idea of what I needed, he basically build it in a night or two or three. And it was a great team because the guy was just awesome. He was our only programmer at GoldMine for the first five years and he built wicked stuff and, and he only knew dBase back in the day, but he learned C and Windows on his own and we were able to transition from DOS to Windows which killed a lot of companies. But because he was so brilliant, he was able to learn that.
But interestingly enough, my dentist wrote the foundational Windows Code back in the day, which is like getting off in the weeds of GoldMine, but GoldMine was not something that I built. It was something that a lot of amazing people contributed to building and not just Elan, but, all the team members that were part of it. It was an amazing culture and the partners.
So today there’s a guy named John Taschek who is head of strategy at Salesforce. He was the editor of “PC Computing.” I was teaching about CRM back in the day and they’re writing these stories and articles and we’re still friends. And so if you think about what we did at GoldMine is we were able to build a company into nearly $100 million in revenue on $5,000 investment, never took a dime of venture and we’re able to do it through storytelling and influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is the Novell reseller and then the Microsoft reseller and storytelling is basically helping writers tell stories about how companies are using technology to grow. So today you call that guerrilla PR, but back then we were just storytellers and that’s how we were able to grow the company without ever really spending much on marketing.
Andrew: Okay. I’m going to come back in a moment and I’m going to talk about the shocking thing that happened to you after you retired and then why you ended up coming back and creating a new company, Nimble. First I’ve got to tell anyone about my first sponsor. It’s called Toptal. Guys, listen to this. Look at how Jon is talking about how Elan is the guy who cleverly figured out how to write code, how to figure this whole new piece of software out. How to really imagine and then develop the future. This is what a good developer will do for you.
If you’re looking to hire the best of the best developers, go to toptal.com/mixergy. The way they work things is they’ve got a network of top developers that they really work hard to screen, to test, to make sure that the best of the best and then when you need to hire someone, you just go to them. They tap their network and they can often hook you up with one or two people within a week and then you can hire them and I’ve had situations where I can hire them and have them get started within a day or two. No one else comes close to Toptal when it comes to hiring the best developers.
If you want to hire from them, don’t go to toptal.com, but go to this special URL I’m about to give you because they’re going to give you 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours. In addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. If at the end of the period you’re not 100% satisfied, like you’re 99% satisfied or 98% satisfied, don’t worry, you will not be billed. So here’s a URL. It’s top as in top of your head, tal is in talent, toptal.com/mixergy, toptal.com/mixergy. Mixergy, of course is M-I-X-E-R-G-Y, toptal.com/mixergy. I never thought I should spell in my ads, Jon, but my guests had been telling me, Andrew, you’ve got to spell it out, spell it out.
Jon: I struggled with Mixergy.
Andrew: You do, right?
Jon: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Thankfully. We now have mixed energy because people keep going to mix energy. You’re talking about mix energies now. We have mixenergy.com. Really good friend and supporter of the podcast bought that.
All right. Here’s the thing. I don’t even know how to bring this up. This is where I lack a little bit of sensitivity. You had a health issue. Maybe that’s a good way to bring it up.
Jon: Yeah, I’ll talk about it. So I sold GoldMine and I started to spend a lot of time mountain bike riding, backpacking. I just got really, really fit and it was having an amazing time. All of a sudden, I started losing more and more weight. And then one summer I was out on the Mediterranean with Elan off the southern coast of Turkey and I couldn’t get out of the bunk. And I went to a local doctor there and he said, I had strep throat and he couldn’t even speak English. I flew home, saw my doctor, which I never really see a doctor, and . . . oh, I went to the HMO guy who is part of my whatever program. And he said, ”Oh yeah, you do have strep throat. Here’s some antibiotics.”
Then it came back two weeks later, had the same like strawberry in my throat. And he said, ”Well, maybe it’s a virus come back in 10 days.” So at that point I said something’s up. And so I got a referral for an ear, nose and throat doctor. I went and saw him in five minutes, he said he needed an MRI and then after you get the MRI, go see the doctors at UCLA and so I got the MRI, went, saw the doctors UCLA and they basically said, ”Yeah, you probably got like lymphoma or something, but we’ll have to do a biopsy to see.” And so I came back and they did a biopsy, and it turned out I had squamous cell carcinoma stage like two or three. And so I had like a tumor that was like that big back in my throat.
Andrew: Size of a golf ball.
Jon: Yeah, it’s pretty big. Yeah. And so at that point I became my own advocate. If you ever get sick, you need to become your own advocate. You need to research and be a part of the process. So I went and saw doctors at UCLA, USC, Sloan Kettering, Cedar Sinai, Mayo Clinic, and eventually I selected the doctors at UCLA. They had a new therapy that used radiation and they basically burn the tumor from the inside of my head from the outside. So have you ever used a magnifying glass?
Jon: You say if you don’t focus the beam of the leaf, it doesn’t burn, right?
Jon: So they basically did this machine, they put a tattoo on my chest and then every day for seven weeks I went and got five minutes of radiation and they start the machine on the tattoo and then it basically whips itself around and zaps me from a 360 degree angles. All it was doing was focusing the beam on the inside of my head of the tumor, but bypassing my salivary glands, my taste buds, my nerves, and all the sensitive stuff that would make it so I could never swallow or taste anything again. And they basically burned it out. Now many people, and sorry if I’m grossing anybody out, but I think we need to talk about, cancer.
Andrew: I do too.
Jon: Please talk about the things we face.
Andrew: No, you’re shocking me because I’m very squeamish, but I need to hear this. Keep going, please.
Jon: So basically most people, doctors, they slice your face, pull your face off and they pull your jaw apart. Then they scoop it out with knives, and then they have to give you chemotherapy and radiation. And you can imagine what that does to somebody. So that was what, 17 years ago or 15, whatever . . . it’s 16, 17 years ago. Knock on wood, I’m here man. I’m alive. And I just feel gifted to . . .
Andrew: You know what, we’re talking about this like it’s a bug in software. I wonder if at the time you, Jon, said, “Oh no, I’m dying. This is the end of it. What was it all about? Why didn’t I leave this GoldMine company before?” Was there any of that? Was there any . . .
Andrew: Nothing. You just, it handled it like a bug in the software. You got to do some research and fix it.
Jon: Yeah, it was a ride, right? I think it was harder on my family than it was on me because I was in the raft, right? I was navigating the river and they had to watch it, right? And so it was really an opportunity for growth, right? Whatever doesn’t kill you, it helps you grow. And it was during that time of healing that also did some spiritual growth. And that’s where I really came to the synthesis of my philosophy in life is that we’re here on this planet to grow by helping other people grow and that’s all you leave this planet with is the moments you’ve been truly present with others and the ripples that you leave through those interactions, you don’t take shit with you in life. And so I just felt gifted to have the time and the resources to be able to do those things. And I just really dedicated the next 10 years to being a active participant in my kids’ education and my community. And it was amazing.
Andrew: Why did you decide to found Nimble? You already done it. You’re retired. You’re fine.
Jon: Yeah. So I started to use social media in 2006, 2007, 2008 about the same time my kids had all gotten to school. So there’s nobody in the house. I’ve time on my hands. And during that time I was remodeling my house. And so I’m a product guy. I synthesize new things out of ideas. And remodeling my house, it’s an old home from the ’20s actually bought my house from Jack Nicholson back in the day and . . .
Andrew: Is this the place you’re in now in Santa Monica.
Jon: Yeah. Yeah. And so remodeling that house, kind of like a workout program. It sort of worked out in my mind and my product design concepts. About the same time I started using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I saw it was going to change the way we work, play, buy, and sell. And this was before people really understood how social is going to be applied into business. People thought that Facebook was a place to hook up with your high school sweetheart. LinkedIn was the place to get a job. And Twitter was a place where a bunch of propeller heads, tell each other when they go into the bathroom. So I saw it was going to basically become this. So back in the old days . . .
Andrew: You’re pointing out your books.
Jon: I’m pointing at my papers. My degree, my personality. I saw it was going . . .
Andrew: Oh, you’re saying that when I come into your office . . . in the old days, I would come into your office and I would get to see all those things, your degree, the books you have behind you, the little knickknacks and that would tell me who you were and that would allow me to have a better sales conversation with you or more meaningful personal conversation that might lead to a sale. And you were saying Twitter and Facebook and all social you knew was going to do the same. I’m just kind of talking as you do grabbing something. What did you grab off the shelf?
Jon: If you saw this on my shelf, you might see that I’m into alternative religions and philosophy.
Andrew: That was the Buddha. I would definitely ask you about that if you and I met in person.
Jon: If you saw this, you’d see that I’m into flying. These are actual silver wings from American Airlines. And so then if you saw this, you can see that I’m into philosophy and growth. So ultimately social media is just a different way for us all to connect at scale and do what we traditionally used to do by going and doing it face to face. And I started to look for a tool that helped me to integrate my social listening connections to contacts and I couldn’t find it. And I saw that contact management is broken because Gmail, G Suite has email, contact, and calendar is three separate tab. So that means when you go to a contact record, you don’t have the context. The history of interactions on email calendar, let alone social and you don’t have insights. Who is this person? What are they about? So you have to Google them?
So contact management was broken. Then I started looking at CRM and saw it was about relationships. It was about reporting. So CRM supposed to stand for customer relationship management. It really stands for customer reporting management and I like to joke, but it’s true. The reason they call it Salesforce, you have to force salespeople to use it. No one in their right mind would use CRM if they won’t beat onto do it. So I said there’s an opportunity here. I started hearing notes in my head, kind of like when Mick Jagger writes a song and I said there’s an opportunity here, and this is basically what I did to build GoldMine. I struggled. I built a tool. With Nimble, I struggled then I built the tool and so I got a band together and we started to work on that
Andrew: And the first version was going to do what? It was going to pull in all the data that people already are posting about themselves online into the address book record in your software.
Jon: If you think about a CRM, at the heart of a good CRM should be a really bitching contact manager but it doesn’t exist. And so CRM is really just a database and you define what data you want to collect on leads until their marketing qualified. She can then build a pipeline and then track the activities against that pipeline to show the results of your sales activities and market activities to sales. So what I said is the heart of a really good CRM is the contacts you’re connecting to, the conversations you’re having, activities that you’re driving with the email, contact and calendar.
So the first thing that Nimble does is layer on top of Gmail, G Suite, unify email, contact, and calendar into a contact record and then map their identity across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and then bring the data down so you don’t have to Google somebody, you Nimble them. And when you look at it Nimble record you see who somebody is, what their business is about, where they went to school, who their significant other is.
Andrew: And you had a plugin for Gmail at the time so that it would be part of the Gmail experience?
Andrew: You did. I’m looking at older versions of the website and the very first version was so geeky. It was like showing databases and the user was this little gray box. I get beyond this, what you were doing. You were saying we’re spending most of our time in this software anyway. Why don’t we bring in all the data we possibly can about the people in the software? So when I’m on Gmail I should know everything about the people that I’m responding to. That was your vision. You had to get LinkedIn to buy in. Who did you go to at LinkedIn? Because I don’t think most people would get the kind of access that you got in the beginning. Who did you go to at LinkedIn?
Jon: So I really started with their head of Biz Dev. A guy, I’m not going to mention his name because I don’t want people to beat on the poor guy. But ultimately it’s about building relationships because relationships help you to open doors and make things happen. And so I had a series of meetings with, the head of Biz Dev who then introduced me to the head of engineering who eventually introduced me to the CEO, Jeff Weiner, the VP of Engineering and the whole management team. And they basically gave me access that even today Microsoft doesn’t even have. So I had all of the API, so public and the private ones including email look up, synchronization of contacts, the ability to synchronize messages, notifications on groups, notifications on your postings and streams and synchronization of all your contacts. So effectively what I built was . . . When you think about Hootsuite? You remember Hootsuite?
Jon: So if you think about what Hootsuite did, is it unified your signals from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blah, blah, blah, into these strings. So I built that with Nimble, but more than just the signals of social, your signals of email, contacts and calendar and not just in strings, but tying it to the contact. That’s the unique difference is everything’s tied to the contact. So when you go to a contact record, you have context, the history of interactions on email, calendar and social. And insights, who are they and what are they about. And so Nimble was a place that we can actually live without having to go to all these places and it was nirvana for the first few years until LinkedIn pulled the API plug because they wanted me to come build Sales Navigator and shut Nimble down and basically the amount of money they offered me wasn’t enough. And then Facebook shut down their API because they want you to go to Facebook to consume the advertising. And at that point . . .
Andrew: I’m shocked that you were able to get it because you’re right. I would need to go to LinkedIn at all if I had Nimble. Once you have Nimble, everything from LinkedIn is already put into the Nimble record. Right? I could chat with people. I could at the time to chat with people on Nimble instead of using their LinkedIn mail, right?
Andrew: I could find out their backgrounds.
Jon: You could even see all their postings and interact with their postings and interact with their response to your postings. And so . . .
Andrew: Did you have to pay for that
Jon: No, they just gave it to me.
Andrew: What did you do, Jon? How did you . . . I feel like this is the essence of your ability as a networker, as a relationship person, to be able to get that. What did you say that got you all that access? What’s your way of working your way through the system?
Jon: I think they saw the benefit to them, right? So if I took my mind and put it to social, what I eventually did is I invented social CRM and social selling before they either existed. And they needed my mind to apply to this problem to then see what was built, which eventually they then build into the Sales Navigator.
Andrew: They wanted to see it. You’re saying you were there way of learning what they knew they needed to build anyway.
Jon: Yeah. And all companies do this. So what happens is they’ll give an entrepreneurial leash and they’ll go run and then there’s two options. They either buy them or they replicated them.
Andrew: And they ended up buying Rapportive.
Jon: They bought Rapportive and they basically turned that into. That’s part of Sales Navigator. They bought Rapportive and this other thing I forget the name of it was like Connected or something.
Andrew: How would we describe what Sales Navigator is? I think of Sales Navigator as that thing in Gmail that’s on the margin that gives me information about everyone that I’m gmailing with.
Jon: But it doesn’t really because what it does is . . . that’s what Rapportive used to be. Right? Right. Rapportive used to give you in Gmail, an avatar and icons, but it doesn’t give you the data behind it, so it doesn’t say Jon Ferrara was born in Los Angeles. He lives in Santa Monica. He went to Cal State Northridge and he . . .
Andrew: Could Rapportive also tell me a little bit about the stuff from their LinkedIn profile and a little bit from Facebook?
Andrew: It didn’t.
Jon: No, it gave you the icons. So basically the LinkedIn Sales Navigator gives you the icons but it doesn’t give you the data behind it. But that’s really not what LinkedIn Sales Navigator is. That’s Rapportive running in Gmail which gives you that. But really what Sales Navigator is, is a tool that allows you to mine LinkedIn basically. So LinkedIn is a biz dev heaven that allows you to look for people like me and reach out and build connections and the ideal way to build connections isn’t the send an InMail. It’s actually walk in my footprint, add value to my conversation so that when we do reach out it’s a warm call, not a cold call.
You used to be able to do all this in LinkedIn for free. They took a lot of that stuff and put it behind the paywall and then added additional things with like a notifications on signals. You could follow people and you could do a number of different things. The LinkedIn Sales Navigator costs $130 a month roughly.
Andrew: Which is not that much frankly for . . .
Jon: Depending on the budget, depending on the person. And you really can’t use a social selling tool unless you understand what social selling is. And most business people don’t really understand what social selling is per se. But ultimately I had to when these APIs disappeared, I had to rethink what Nimble was going to be.
Andrew: Before we get to that, let me just ask one question that I’m going to talk about my second sponsor, but the question is, how much did they want to buy you for at Nimble when they wanted you to build all this for them?
Jon: Let’s just say it wasn’t enough.
Andrew: All right. And you still have no funding at Nimble. Am I right?
Jon: No. We do have funding. So Mark Cuban, Dharmesh Shah, Jason Calacanis.
Jon: Google. Microsoft to a certain extent. So we have guy who founded the IPM program at Goldman Sachs, the guy who runs MIT entrepreneurial programs. So we’ve got some amazing investors and advisors.
Andrew: Okay. I didn’t know that. My second sponsor is a company called HostGator. Before the interview started, I asked you if you had any, like, any reservations about HostGator and you said, you know, Andrew, they’re part of the Endurance family of companies. And I said, yeah, I know that Endurance bought all these different hosting companies, including HostGator.
Jon: Constant Contact. Bluehost. DreamHost.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s what kills me. Sometimes people will say, Andrew, I prefer Bluehost is a better company. I said, would you take a moment and just understand it’s the same freaking company, HostGator, it’s just a brand they used with me because when they buy and they buy it under the HostGator brand. And one of the things that Endurance does really well is they pit these companies against each other even though they’re doing the same thing, the same companies behind them.
I talked to the salesperson at HostGator. He is so determined to crush his competitor, so to speak, at the other Endurance companies that he’s working with me. What can we do to get better sales? How can we get you to do a better job? And more than that, he’s done with his breakfast with me. He goes and he stands at a booth at the conference and make sure that everyone at the conference knows about HostGator because he is driven. But anyway, you have some experience with Endurance. What’s your experience with them? And then I’ll give people the call to action.
Jon: So if you think about a business, the first thing you need to do is you need to get a domain. Next thing you need to do is build a website. In the old days you went and got an email from them and it’s was POP or IMAP. Today, you don’t really do POP or IMAP. You either by Office 365 or Gmail G Suite. And Endurance was the Google’s largest G Suite reseller. Recently they started to resell Office 365. Microsoft has signed a reseller agreement to resell Office 365 with Nimble globally and therefore Endurance can sell Office and Nimble together when you buy a website, because if you buy a website, you need to drive eyeballs to the website, but once you drive the eyeballs to the website, you need to do something with the eyeball. Nimble is a perfect place to put them and just start nurturing and building the relationships.
And so they have a site called Site Builder and in Site Builder is a store and we’re the only CRM in the store and they’re starting to resell us. And if you buy Constant Contact and soon even with HostGator, the Site Builder store will be in there and you’ll be able to sign up for a website. And buy Nimble and Nimble will automatically grab any leads you drive to that website enriched and with people and company data and allow you to engage to drive and grow your business.
Andrew: Oh, okay. So Constant Contact’s going to be the bulk messaging software and Nimble is going to be more of a one-on-one contact software.
Jon: Yeah. If you think about marketing automation, that’s like high-level bombing over the battlefield that you basically drop bombs to soften up the ground. But to win a war you need to put boots on the ground and that’s what a sales rep is. And the sales reps need intelligence. They need maps that show where people and companies are and then they need a rifle, something to send an email with template and tracking and Nimble does that wonderfully. So we basically are a blend of CRM, sales intelligence and email template tracking. And then Constant Contact is more of the mass mailing automation.
Andrew: So here’s my analysis of this offer that they’re making my audience hostgator.com/mixergy. People are going to get hosting starting at $2.64 month. My sense is there’s not much profit in that. They can’t stay a successful growing business right at that. What they’re doing is they’re signing people up, giving you WordPress, which is free to them, free to me to use, free to anyone who is listening to us to use. You have your website and then you say, you know what, it’s time for me to also get a CRM. Well, they let me try the CRM that’s part of this package. Let’s hit a button. We’ll try Nimble and then we’re good.
Now as my business grows, my needs like CRM or growing too. I ended up paying for a CRM through them. You service me as a CRM provider and now they’re making money much more probably from introducing me to you than they are from hosting my website.
Jon: And you’re more sticky because if you’ve got a website and you don’t do anything else with it, you can switch to another website provider, but if you’ve got a website and you’ve got Nimble behind it, you’ve got Constant Contact connected to it. Then all of a sudden your leads are going in there, your nurture marketing is going in there, your follow-up and pipelines in there, and you’re not going to leave it because all your notes and tasks are in there and all of a sudden . . .
Andrew: But I could take it, can’t I? If I’m not happy with HostGator, but I am happy with Nimble, I can take all my contacts to Nimble on my own and leave HostGator. I know I can do it. Yes. Right. But it’s less likely to if it all works and is together.
Jon: Yeah. And if you think about it, hosting providers at GoDaddy and DreamHost, Bluehost, all of those guys, it’s commodity business, right? So they need to layer additional technologies on top in order to make it (a) more sticky and to provide more margin from each customer.
Andrew: All right, so this is why if you’re listening to me, you’re going to get a really low price from HostGator because as you grow your business, they’re going to have other services they’re going to offer. You don’t have to take any of them, but if you want them, you’re going to see that they all work well together and what I found is you can pretty much leave all of them, including your WordPress site because they’re using this software that works anywhere, which is not true for a lot of the site builder software that now is competing with them, right?
You know what, can I mentioned this? I’m going to mention it. If you’re with Squarespace, it’s not easy to take a Squarespace site and say, “I’m not happy with Squarespace. I’m going somewhere else.” It just isn’t easy, but if you don’t like HostGator for whatever reason, they’re not the company who’s founders shot an elephant. Some people think that they are, but let’s suppose the founder, the CEO goes and shoots 10 elephants. You say, I’m not happy with them. You take your WordPress website and you go somewhere else. You take your Nimble data, you go to Nimble directly, or you go to even a competitor of Nimble because you could export it all.
But these guys know what they’re doing. They’ve been doing this for years. They just had been crushing it. They, you know, most people say they’re crushing it, aren’t really doing it. With them, these guys are crushing it. They’re on top for a reason. If you need a reliable hosting solution, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. By adding that slash mixergy at the end, you’re going to get up to 62% off their already low prices and you’ll be tagged as a Mixergy customer, which means they’ll always take really good care of you. And so will we, and you’d be doing me a solid. Let’s be honest, a you’ll be showing them that advertising on Mixergy pays off. hostgator.com/mixergy M-I-X-E-R-G Y.
All right, so you’re building this business up. How far did you get with Nimble before I guess LinkedIn was the first company to close you down?
Jon: Well, they didn’t shut us down, they just shut down their API. I think we had about 80,000 people subscribed to the platform.
Andrew: So what kind of revenue is that?
Jon: Size, probably like 80,000 a month.
Andrew: That’s fantastic. So that’s a million dollar business, right, and million dollar run rate and then they shut you down. I’m making a little more dramatic. Right? But they shut their APIs. Basically it’s the heart of why you started the business. This is what made you . . . It’s not?
Jon: It wasn’t just LinkedIn, but the whole reason I started the business was the idea of building the first CRM that works for you by building itself automagically. The data that you already have in your business, which is the contacts you’re connecting to, the conversations you having, the activities you’re driving, which is email, contact, and calendar and the places you’re doing it beyond that which is social.
And so what happened was I had to rethink what Nimble was going to be and where we’re going to do it. And so because I couldn’t bring all the signals into Nimble, I had to put Nimble where your signals are. And so we had already built a plugin to Gmail, but we didn’t really have a plugin everywhere else that you worked. And so we also didn’t have an integration with Office 365 because Office 365 kind of just came out.
And so if you remember my story about Microsoft, they don’t innovate, they iterate. They wait for somebody else to build the market. They come in when it’s big enough. They built something good enough. Then they use their muscle. So Gmail G Suite founded cloud productivity, email, contact and calendar. Office came out and they were just fledgling in the beginning.
So we built integrations to Office but not just that, but we built a Chrome plugin that basically takes this unified email, contact, and calendar and social and puts it where you work, not just inside of Gmail but Office and inside of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. So if you’re in a stream in Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook, you put the Nimble widget on and Nimble automatically knows you’re talking to Andrew, brings up the record of it does exist or builds the record if it doesn’t exist.
And I think that’s the future of work is that today, the reason CRMs fail is you have to go to it to use it. And you work for it by googling something and then logging in. With Nimble, it’s the first CRM that automatically works for you by building itself and then worked with you everywhere you work, not just social and email, but now over 130 SaaS business apps because we buy directly synchronized with 130 SaaS business apps, which means that not only is Nimble becoming the center of contacts for your whole business where we’re working back inside of those applications with all your team members.
Andrew: So I see the plugin now in the Chrome store on the right margin of this user who’s now on a Twitter page in your demo. Everything that the person who has this on the computer has . . . Sorry if I had this on my computer and I actually don’t have the Chrome plugin, but if I did, I would be able to go on Twitter and I could see the phone number of the person that I’m looking at it on Twitter. I could see my past conversations with them in history. I could see links to their social profiles. Am I right now?
Andrew: So now I’m not just seeing them on Twitter, I’m seeing everything that I know about them on Twitter.
Jon: That’s right, and I’m going to give you a story example.
Andrew: Please. That helps.
Jon: In order to build the Nimble brand, imagine I’d been out of technology for 10 years, so I had to build my brand and had to build the Nimble brand and the way did is I identified the influence or my prospect. In the GoldMine days, that was the Novell reseller. In the Nimble days, there weren’t resellers per se in the cloud like there were in the Novell days. So identified thought leaders in and around the areas of promise my product, so thought leaders in sales and marketing and social, and I started to share their content, hashtagging it appropriately account sales, account marketing, account social and attributing their name and thereby generate traffic to my brand, to the Nimble brand as well as conversations with those influencers who eventually became users and recommenders of my product.
And that’s today they call it influencer marketing, but when we started, there was no term for it and that’s basically how we were able to build the Nimble brand and my brand, and by doing that the other day, somebody said something about me. They said somebody posted from Salesforce that CRM isn’t about command and control. It’s about building empowering customer facing relationships. And some guy said, “Bullshit. It is about command and control. When are sales manager’s going to loosen their grip and this is what Jon Ferrara has been building and teaching with Nimble.”
And Nimble automatically listens to my signals, enriches the contacts and then services ones that matched the DNA of people I should be connecting to. So Nimble told me there was a conversation of interest. So I went to Twitter and I highlighted his name. Nimble not only told me that he was the head of CRM and data at Disney, but he gave me his email and his phone number because Nimble has prospecting enrichment to contact records. And I was able to reply appropriately in context of the Twitter stream, but right there from the widget in Twitter, I was able to email him and thank him.
That email then shifted to a LinkedIn invite and conversation at which point I learned that his daughter goes to my daughter’s school and he lives in my city. I invited him for breakfast because I think the more digital we get, the more human we need to be and we had a face-to-face conversation resulting in Disney becoming a customer and him becoming an evangelist for Nimble.
Now you wouldn’t have been able to do that with the traditional CRM because it doesn’t listen to your signals. It doesn’t work where you work and it doesn’t work in email, LinkedIn, Twitter, and in my business apps. And that’s basically the whole vision behind Nimble is that you shouldn’t go to your CRM to use it and you shouldn’t work for it. It should work for you by building itself and then work with you anywhere so that you have the contacts and insights you need to engage effectively.
Andrew: So it all started because you saw him say something on Twitter. You highlighted his name.
Jon: No, it started because Nimble heard him say something. Nimble logs in . . .
Andrew: Nimble told you there’s someone talking about something that you’re interested in. You followed that to Twitter.
Jon: No, it’s more than that.
Andrew: Tell me.
Jon: Nimble logs any interaction that you or the team have in social. Then it enriches that contact record with their background information then matches the fingerprint of that person in the company to people and companies that you should connect to. And so Nimble knew the fingerprint of a person I should connect you. So its surfaced that conversation to me, in which case I was able to go to it and then engage effectively.
Andrew: And then Nimble got his email address for you.
Jon: Nimble got his email and his phone number for me.
Andrew: Do you want to know something? I’ve had Nimble on my phone for years because I know Kurt D who worked with you guys? Kurt Deredict [SP].
Jon: I love that guy.
Andrew: Yeah, he’s a guy who like old school, like used to use . . .
Andrew: GoldMine. Used to type in. He’s really good at getting to know people. I didn’t know you did all of this, and I guess I’d never watched your videos. I never did the training and the part that I was hung up on, now I understand why you guys are de-emphasizing it. I didn’t know how to add a note to somebody in Nimble on my phone. And I said, if I’m done with the call with Jon, I want to go and log it in and that’s what you guys are about. That’s why it’s not front and center.
Jon: So actually, we do do that.
Andrew: You do. I don’t even know how to . . . I know how to do it on the desktop. I don’t know how to do it on the phone and that’s where I got hung up.
Jon: Yeah. So I’m going to personally give you a training session. We’re going to schedule a follow-up and we’re going to do that. I’m going to walk you through and I’m going to teach you how to fish because I would love you to become not just a better fisherman, but I want you to become an apostle to our teachings.
Andrew: Okay. So let me see if I understand the source of all. I’d love to do that and I’d love anyone who interested to let me know if they want to listen in. Can I do that? Yeah, I’ll share some of my contacts. They’ll see it. So that’s a big issue for me. The other issue that you . . . Uh-huh?
Jon: So here’s the deal. If I’m looking at a contact record. So here’s a guy, Pim, see that? Pim. So if I want to do a note on Pim, I just click those three dots right there.
Andrew: I click those three dots. I didn’t know that I could do that. Let me go to click the three dots. It says edit, delete, add phone, book share.
Jon: Wait, hang on. Oh no, it’s not the three dots. It’s a little portfolio right there that’s right next to the dollar sign.
Andrew: Oh, got it. That provide a note description. Okay. So I’m going to say this is a test and add. Yeah. Okay. Got it. And I liked that it puts the date on it. I always personally hand write the date which drives me nuts, but here’s. Okay, so that’s really helpful for me. Here’s my other issue. So have people come over for scotch night. I’ll go in, I’ll write some of the personal things that they said without like, I don’t get too personal about it in my phone book just in case somebody happens to see it.
The next time we have dinner to follow up, I’ll forget to go in and see that they told me that. So they might say something like, my dad is going through a heart surgery right now. I’ll send them an email afterwards and then I’ll go in my phone and I’ll write heart surgery. A week later we’ll have dinner, I’ll forget to go on my phone, and then they’ll start talking about heart surgery that their dad’s having, I’ll go, “I wrote that down. I took the time. I made the effort.” How do I ever . . . I want that to come back to me. I’ve thought about even having my assistant go through my records.
Jon: Here’s the deal.
Jon: This is your Golden Rolodex. Rolodex is like a thing you put business cards.
Andrew: Yep. You’re looking at your phone right now. Yes.
Jon: So yes, your network is your net worth. Your personal brand professional network will help you achieve your dreams in life. And today you don’t have a personal CRM. Anybody listening to this today needs a personal CRM. Nimble’s perfect for that. So today when you go to a contact record, and this is my contacts and inside of my phone, there is no background on this person. There’s no history of interactions, right? So contacts are separate and then if I go to my email and I go and look at an email from somebody, I don’t know who Jennifer is and I don’t know the history of our interactions. And if I go to a calendar appointment, so here I’ve got this meeting with you. Who are you? Right?
So any contact in calendar are three separate programs on my phone, just like they are in Gmail, G Suite and Office. So what Nimble does is it unifies all that into a singular whole by synchronizing all that data off of your phone and then building a smart agenda. So basically when I look at the Nimble agenda, I have the whole background on people. And then when I go and I look at something like I’m meeting with Craig at 3:00, essentially Nimble gives me a record that it automagically builds on him, including not only his background but the history of our interactions that my team and I have had with him historically. So you have all your notes and all your history and before a meeting you can set Nimble to remind you 10 minutes before your meeting to prepare for the meeting.
Andrew: And see everything that’s in there.
Jon: Nimble will basically show you the record automatically.
Andrew: And it will go to their social data and pull in some of that.
Andrew: It will.
Andrew: So if they happen to say, my dog died today on social somewhere, you will suck that in.
Jon: Yes and Nimble will after the meeting, give you a reminder to log your notes and your next steps.
Andrew: Okay. And then I’m going to add one final thing. If I’m not happy with Nimble in two years, right? You sell it to someone I don’t like. Can I pull that data out and put it in my regular address book?
Jon: It already is in there. We [binary 00:57:37] synchronize with your address book.
Andrew: Okay. I’m signing up for this training. You’re going to spend time with me. I’m going to have a lot of really sharp questions. I’ll even tell you about the competitor. I’ve tried every competitor that you have. I have them all on my phone because this is critical to me and then I hate that I still don’t have it. It is so meaningful when somebody will bring up to me something that happened like my. Here’s the easy one. If you bring up my latest running, I love you for it, right? I don’t know how to do that to other people. I know how to write it down. I don’t know how to use it and so now it stopped writing it down because I feel like what’s the point? I might as well enjoy life. Okay.
All right. I see how you did it. So you moved on into evangelists and that’s what you’re hoping I will be with you on a . . . to help talk about this other people. You then told our producer is something that I didn’t know about you and I don’t know how to understand this. You said we scaled from influencers to guerrilla PR and storytelling. That was how you went from . . . That’s how you went to the bigger numbers of users. What does that mean?
Jon: So in the GoldMine days, I told you the story about how we started with the Novell resellers and that got us to the first $100,000 a month in revenue. And then the Novell reseller started asking us for leads and how do you generate leads without advertising? I don’t know how to advertise and I didn’t have money to advertise. So what I did is I went to the places where my prospects learn about business and technology, so the publications that they read. So in those days it was “PC Magazine,” “Inc.,” “Forbes,” “Fortune,” whatever.
And I basically contacted the editors and said, “How can I help you write more stories?” And they said, “Tell us stories about how companies are using technology telling tech stories about how people are using GoldMine to grow.” And that’s how the term CRM even became into existence. And I really taught a lot of these editors about technology and CRM and contact management, etc., and eventually we won more awards and got more print than all the other competitors combined. That’s the GoldMine story.
The Nimble story we started out with the influencers of our prospects, thought leaders in social sales and marketing. And then we started contacting the editors, analysts, bloggers, influencers, and helped them write more stories. So just like our team contacted you and we set up this conversation to basically teach and preach about growing your business and entrepreneurship. We do that with publications. And so that’s how we got a “PC Magazine” editor’s choice and got on the cover of “Fortune” and all these different things happened because of telling stories and getting other people to tell those stories.
So that’s guerrilla PR and marketing. In fact, there’s a book that I highly recommend and this book . . .
Andrew: He’s grabbing a book from his bookcase right now.
Jon: This book, ”The New Rules of PR and Marketing” by David Meerman Scott is one of the things that inspired me to basically build Nimble. But that book will teach you everything you need to know about how to tell great stories and get other people to tell those stories for you.
Andrew: Okay. I’m seeing that Microsoft too. You partnered up again with Microsoft. So you’ve worked with the Office 365. Are they also helping to sell?
Andrew: It is. How is Microsoft helping you guys grow?
Jon: Okay. So if you think about it, Microsoft, in order to sell Office, they need something that basically helps make it sticky and helps sell it. So in the old days when you bought GoldMine, you needed to buy NT Server, SQL Server, and Exchange Server. And if you think about it, Exchange Server is kind of like Outlook, if you will. It’s email. NT Server is kind of like a Azure as is SQL Server.
So Microsoft’s crown jewels isn’t Office, it’s all the rest of the stuff that you’re going to need to buy to scale your business, which includes Azure, Dynamics, Power BI Flow, PowerApps and LinkedIn Sales Navigator. And so if you as a company, as a third-party product can drive first-party adoption of a billion dollar company like Microsoft, you could scale to $100 million and that’s exactly what we’re doing today.
Andrew: But it is still you getting me to use Nimble and then as a result of using Nimble, being more likely to use Microsoft products.
Andrew: It’s you selling their stuff. But then how does that help you sell more?
Jon: Bear with me. So Microsoft recognized the need to sell third-party solutions to drive first-party adoption of their products. And they basically set up a digital warehouse where when the resellers by Office, they’re called CSPs, cloud solution providers, and they basically buy software digitally from Microsoft. Today, the Microsoft resellers can sell Office and Nimble from the same page. So Microsoft signed a reseller agreement with us. They sell Nimble with Office through their resellers and we don’t have to sign a contract with their resellers. Basically Microsoft holds the contract. They collect the money. All we need to do is talk to the resellers, convince them to sell it.
And so we’ve been able to sign up 25 of Microsoft’s top 50 distributors, including Tech Data, Ingram, Endurance and others, and they basically are now introducing us to their resellers and giving us access to 100,000 plus resellers who we’re now scaling into Nimble users and therefore resellers because like I said before, people sell what they know and they know what they use. So we’re getting the Microsoft resellers to use Nimble and therefore sell it. And if you think about a typical Microsoft reseller, they sell plumbing to plumbers. They sell IT infrastructure to IT decision makers, they sell Office, but they don’t sell solutions on top. And so Nimble and they don’t use modern social sales and marketing solutions themselves.
So if we can get them to use Nimble and then start to recommend it and resell it with Office, then we become a gateway to Dynamics and Azure and the rest of Microsoft’s product family because Nimble is embedding Power BI Flow, PowerApps as well as common data services, which is the baby step to Azure. And soon we’ll be embedding Dynamics in Nimble. So as you outgrow Nimble and you’re looking for beefier or bigger CRM, you’ll be able to upsell yourself into Dynamics and then Nimble is a sales enablement tool that works with Dynamics. And so basically Microsoft is walking us into their top customers and they’re telling their customers and their resellers to use and sale Nimble today.
Andrew: And then they’re hoping that their customers will be upgrading to their software in the future at some point.
Jon: Well, it helps sell Office and makes it more sticky. We give Office what it’s missing. Office doesn’t have a team relationship manager and it doesn’t have a simple social sales and marketing CRM on top of it. So today, have you ever looked at Dynamics or Salesforce?
Andrew: Salesforce, yes. Not Dynamics.
Jon: Think about a big terminal screen, a database, you can just use Dynamics or Salesforce. It has to be implemented. Implementation takes months and costs tens of thousands of dollars. If I gave you Dynamics or Salesforce, you couldn’t even use it. And even after it’s implemented, you might feel it’s too much or too big. So Salesforce and Dynamics wouldn’t be here today without GoldMine. GoldMine had the seat in the market and then the ones that grew big enough, they were converted into Dynamics and Salesforce, so we are that natural thing today in the market that helps the masses adopt because there’s 225 million global businesses, less than one percent use any CRM. Most people’s CRM is a spreadsheet or their email or social.
Andrew: I’m shocked.
Jon: And so we are the CRM for the blue ocean 99% of us.
Andrew: All right. The company name is Nimble. You’ve had nimble.com from the very beginning. It’s a great domain name to have. I’m looking forward to . . . You know what, I want to set up a time as soon as I say goodbye to everyone to set up a time. It doesn’t even have to be you. I don’t want to trouble you for this. I’ll trouble you for other stuff.
Jon: No. I want to do this with you.
Andrew: I do need a good CRM that is not making me work much. And I don’t really trust a lot of other companies to have access to my email, but I would absolutely trust Nimble. And right now I’m going into my own personal use. Anyone who wants to go check you out, should just go to nimble.com. And I want to thank my to sponsors who made this interview happen. The first . . .
Jon: I have code.
Andrew: A code for what? A discount code.
Jon: If you go and try Nimble, you can use this code before the end of your two-week free trial. JON40. J-O-N 40. You get 40% off your first three months.
Andrew: Okay. All right. I’m going to do it, and I don’t know if I’ll invite people to come. This is too important to me. I may not feel comfortable inviting everyone to join and look at me and see how I do this.
Jon: But you know, we can record it and you can decide.
Andrew: Okay. All right. If anyone’s interested, I don’t know what I’ll end up doing. You could go to mixergy.com/nimble and we’ll have something set up where if I do it, we’ll do it. If I do it, then I’ll give you a recording of it. Or let me just set a reminder. Set a reminder for me to create a /Nimble web page like I promised today at 4:00 p.m. today. All right. Good. That’ll remind me. All right, and I want to take my two sponsors. The first is HostGator for hosting websites, hostgator.com/mixergy. Now you know why they’re so super cheap. And number two, Toptal. If you need to hire phenomenal developer, there’s no better place toptal.com/mixergy. Jon, thanks so much for doing this.
Jon: Andrew, thank you. It was really a blast.
Andrew: Thanks. Bye. Bye, everyone.